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May 22, 2014
Supreme Court overturns Court of Appeals opinion regarding reasonable accommodation of employee’s religious beliefs

Release compliments of the the Human Rights Commission

OLYMPIA - Today, the Washington Supreme Court held that the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for their employee’s religious practices.  

The case involved a lawsuit by employees of an airport concessionaire who were not permitted to bring their own meals to work for security reasons, and who challenged their employer’s failure to provide meals consistent with their religious beliefs.

The majority reasoned that although WLAD differs from its federal statutory counterpart in not explicitly requiring that an employer make reasonable accommodation of employees’ religious beliefs, such a requirement was implied in WLAD’s prohibition on religious discrimination.

The Supreme Court overturned a 2012 Court of Appeals opinion in doing so, relying in part on arguments made in an amicus brief filed on behalf of the Human Rights Commission. 

The Washington State Human Rights Commission is a state agency that enforces the Washington Law Against Discrimination.  It is a violation of Washington law for a person to be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation/gender identity, age, disability, use of a dog guide or trained service animal due to a disability, familial status, marital status, honorably discharged veteran and military status, or status as a breastfeeding mother.

If an individual believes that he or she has been discriminated because of a protected basis, he or she can file a complaint with the Commission by going to the Commission's website at or calling 800-233-3247.  

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